Upgrading vs. Migration to SharePoint 2016

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Choosing the right path to the new version of SharePoint, whether on-premises or online, can be overwhelming. Should you upgrade or migrate? It is important to understand that upgrade and migration are not synonymous. Some may disagree, but I truly believe that these are two different processes. Let’s get a better understanding of both options.

Upgrade

The technical terminology of upgrading is the physical transformation of a SharePoint content database from one schema version to the updated schema. The most common upgrade process is attaching your existing databases to the new SharePoint farm. The content remains the same, even though your new farm may be on a new hardware. From a non-technical perspective, it’s similar to remodeling your home – taking what’s old and making it new with a few more modern conveniences.

spupgrade

Migration

Migration is the physical move of SharePoint containers, data and associated attributes from one SharePoint farm to the new updated farm. The process is typically carried out with the aid of commercial tools. Again, using my non-technical comparison of a migration, it’s like moving from a house to a condo.

spmigration

Now that we’ve seen the differences between the two, the next question is making the choice of whether to upgrade your platform or to migrate out of your current implementation.

Here are some examples of where an upgrade is recommended:

  • You’re running an out-of-support version of SharePoint
  • You need to upgrade the SharePoint farm operating system
  • Your site collections and content databases are properly architected
  • Your existing taxonomy / information architecture is well-formed and supports your current organizational structure

And here are some examples of when a migration is recommended:

  • The source document repository is not SharePoint
  • You’re migrating to SharePoint Online (Office 365)
  • You’re migrating from older SharePoint versions (SharePoint 2010 and previous)
  • Your taxonomy / information architecture needs to be redesigned
  • Content databases are too large and need to be split to improve performance or to meet your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) or Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

In summary, upgrade and migration are two different options. The best approach depends on your requirements, constraints, and business objectives. It is important to mention that certain considerations must be taken into account when deciding whether upgrading or migrating is appropriate for your organization.

Centric has assisted many organizations with upgrades and migrations. To learn more about how Centric Consulting can help with your decision to upgrade or migrate, visit us at CentricConsulting.com

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SharePoint On-Premises vs. SharePoint Online (Office 365) – Informed Decisions

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We are now seeing many organizations moving to Office 365, often starting with Exchange Online and Active Directory Federation Services in Azure. Companies that have already invested in SharePoint on-premises deployment are also considering moving to cloud as well. Before making the move to the cloud, take a look at some key decisions in the tables below.

We all know of the significant capital investment that comes with deploying SharePoint on-premises. Companies with on-premises deployments benefit from owning the environment and the full functionality of SharePoint. This also means that you are responsible for administering and supporting the environment. With this in mind, should you go down the Office 365 route?

If you’re not looking to pay for hardware and software up front or for the ongoing maintenance and support costs, buying subscriptions to Office 365 may be a better option. While the monthly operational investment will be a lot lower than the capital expense of buying infrastructure, over time the subscription costs can add up. However, benefits of Office 365 include more robust hardware and services including patching, backup and disaster recovery.

Where should you start?

Some key decisions for staying on premises:

Pros

Cons

You already have SharePoint deployed Large initial capital expense for hardware and software
The free version (SharePoint Foundation) is still available Cost of scaling up or out and disaster recovery
You can control when updates are applied Downtime required during patch/update
You have full control of solutions deployment SharePoint 2016 requires Software Assurance for new feature packs
SharePoint 2016 is not the last version of on-premises

 

Some key decisions for moving to SharePoint Online:

Pros

Cons

New features made available frequently Constant updates
No server maintenance Migration requires a third-party tool
Microsoft SLA for 99.9% uptime Custom deployment
Cost based on subscriptions Critical third-party solutions/tools are not supported
Redundant with multiple data centers Limited integration with internal services
Potential need for upgrading internet connection to account for the additional traffic required by O365

According to the research conducted by The Radicati Group, Inc. in 2016, market share for SharePoint on-premises is still higher than SharePoint Online as shown in the figure below.

onpremisesvcloudsharepoint2016

However, my experience, especially in the past year, has shown a dramatic increase in the number of organizations considering SharePoint Online.

The bottom line is that your decision of where and how to host your SharePoint deployment might not be a simple one. There are many key decision factors and relevant considerations. The limitations of some cloud-based functionality may not be suitable for some companies, but this is likely to change as SharePoint Online matures. Regardless of which direction you want to take, both short-term and long-term costs must be taken into consideration.

At Centric, we have used this method and other tools to help customers understand the details and make the best business and financial choices. As always, please feel free to contact us at CentricConsulting.com for any assistance you might need.